28/05/20 The total UK death toll from the corona-virus reached 37,837 on Thursday with 377 more deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours. Boris Johnson announced that groups of up to six people in England will be allowed to meet in outdoor spaces from Monday. The UK’s test and trace system went live and was plunged into chaos on its first day, with many NHS staff unable to access the system. Dominic Cummings might have broken lock-down rules when he made a 50-mile journey to Barnard Castle, an investigation by Durham Police has concluded, but they would not be taking any further action against Mr Cummings. Hmmm.
It’s difficult to remain optimistic about beating this pandemic any time soon when you consider the above paragraph. It is true that the trend in the death rate (with fluctuations) is down, but surely in a principally law-abiding country as ours, you would expect the death rate to be at least comparable to other European countries, albeit that we are roughly two weeks behind from the start of infection. Recriminations are best left until the battle is won and the dust has settled, but it is plain to see that politics is beginning to impact to the detriment of OUR efforts to win this fight. Pushing through a system that isn’t ready or fully tested erodes public confidence and so does elevating a member of the establishment above the general population. We are largely a disciplined society, we obey the laws, queue happily and are very charitable, but there is not one law for some and another law for others, that is inequality and this country has a long history of riling against that.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been in contact (email) with Mark Keane who lives in Florida. His parents, Linda and Paddy who live in Harborough were visiting when they got caught in lock-down. Today they flew back to the UK. They will have to self isolate for two weeks, so Mark asked that we provide them with some necessary groceries and support them. Sue did some shopping during the morning in readiness for their return and popped a note through the letterbox asking them to ring when they arrived. They called early afternoon thanking Sue for the food and promised to ring tomorrow with a shopping list. They were tired after a rather convoluted journey and wanted to sleep.
Yesterday, I spoke with Jim and Bridget in Cyprus. Their house sale is going ahead and they should be back in this country by the 24th July, fingers crossed. It appears that lock-down is now being completely relaxed on the island, with bars and restaurants being opened, hotels readied for business and a date set for the introduction of tourists. If they are wise they will block those countries where the virus is still very active, I am afraid that would include the UK.
Not much happened at Willow Bank apart from gardening, cooking and cleaning. The one distraction was Jamie, Ruth, Joey, Rocky and Nala came over late afternoon to borrow the canoe again, leaving the two dogs for Sue and I to look after. We were just about to have tea when they arrived, so the two of them sat quietly under the table, tongues extended, hoping for scraps. Tea finished, Rocky kept me company in the garden while I dug up spent tulip bulbs and tiny Nala stayed with Sue in the kitchen.
29/05/20 The official UK Covid-19 death toll rose by 324 overnight to 38,161. Apparently we aren’t alone in being ill-prepared for the onset of the pandemic; “As corona-virus arrived in France this winter, staff at an army base in the east of the country were dutifully burning hundreds of thousands of face-masks,” The Times reports. “The incinerations were part of a money-saving programme to run down the state’s stock of 1.7 billion protective masks that had reached a peak in 2011.” After false alarms with Sars and swine flu, ministers had decided they would no longer hold protective equipment in reserve. So when the corona-virus pandemic began, they were forced to try to buy masks on the open market. Ooooops! President Trump announced the US would disband its relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid the corona-virus pandemic. Perhaps he thinks that will make it go away? Unfortunately he seems far more concerned with nefariously attempting to rig the election in November than considering the health and well being of his nation.
Another fine day in Harborough. During the morning Sue did some shopping at Fosters factory shop for some foody bargains. I took to my cycle very early this morning (7am) and was surprised to come across an awful lot of runners pounding along tracks that I usually have to myself. If there is one good thing to arise from this pandemic, it has encouraged a great many to run. Unlike the early days of the infection when most were wearing just slacks and a T-shirt, they now have upgraded to designer running gear, mobiles phone strapped to an arm with App logging their performance and a Fitbit smart watch being checked every so often. Hopefully such an investment in gear will strengthen their resolve to carry on running, long after the virus has run its course!
Much of my time is now occupied with watering, flowers, vegetables and fruit. We haven’t had rain for several weeks now, and there is none forecast in the foreseeable future, the soil is hard, cracked and dry, I should imagine that the farmers are starting to get rather concerned. During May, Scotland and the north seem to have monopolised the weather systems that bring rain, having 50% more precipitation than usual. Surely, rather than building HS2 or another runway for Heathrow, how about an aqueduct being built to bring water from the very wet north to the very dry south east? A much better use of funds and resources.
In early March I ordered an Apricot tree on-line to replace a Victoria plum that died over winter, it was due to arrive a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t. I cancelled the order and today I drove to a garden centre near Braybrooke to see if they had one. Unfortunately they didn’t, so I considered buying a Strawberry Tree (Arbutus) instead, but seeing the length of the queue at the check-out, I chose not to bother, life is too short! I know standing patiently in-line is presently a necessary hassle, but it is still frustrating none-the-less and I think will get more so as time goes on.
Harry had a visit to the vets. He ripped his claw badly and after £110 of treatment he will hopefully feel better soon.
30/05/20 The corona-virus death toll in UK has risen by 215, bringing the total number of deaths across hospitals, care homes and the wider community to 38,376. Brits have been flocking to beauty spots this weekend despite warnings not to pre-empt further relaxations of lock-down measures. A nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe, Prince Joachim, has tested positive for corona-virus after attending a party in Spain, which Spanish media said broke lock-down rules because of the number of people there. Serves him right. Since relaxing conditions of lock-down deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 111 on Saturday, against 87 the day before. Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban paid a 3,000 lei fine ($690) on Saturday for breaking his own corona-virus restrictions by not wearing a face mask and smoking indoors. Johnson and Cummings could well learn a lesson from this statesman, when you break your own rules, put your hand up, take the punishment and you may retain some respect.
This morning Sue did the shopping in Sainsbury’s for Linda and Paddy and left it on the doorstep, they are currently in isolation after their flight from the USA. Afterwards we drove up to Newbold Verdon to collect Mia. Sarah is due to give birth on Sunday and we are taking charge of Mia for the time being. We only stayed briefly before returning to Harborough. There was a lot more traffic on the road today and the parks seemed quite full of people enjoying the sun and having picnics.
The afternoon was spent taking Mia for walks, watering the lawn and wrestling with a Google Home issue that stopped it from playing the news when asked.
Unsure, Lee and Sarah made a visit to the hospital. They checked the baby’s heart beat, the position of the head (well down) and that she was moving. Everything checked out fine and an appointment was made for 8am tomorrow to discuss options, if the baby doesn’t have other plans!
During the evening, most of the Palmer tribe watched the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch on their tablets and laptops in their respective gardens, however, Sue and I (veterans of the moon landings) chose to watch a film; Kajaki: The True Story. A harrowing tale of a British paratrooper unit in Afghanistan, unwittingly venturing into a land mine littered wadi. Graphic, gripping and worth watching. Later in the evening the whole Palmer tribe managed to spot the astronauts’ Dragon capsule track west to east low in the night sky at exactly 10.15pm.
When King Trump tweeted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he may not regret his use of words, but many of his citizens already have and in particular his law enforcement agency. Does the buffoon not understand that every word he utters has a consequence for somebody? Come the election, let’s hope he discovers that he too is not immune from consequence.